As you probably are aware of, I just took a short trip to Chicago to have some minor revisions done on my face and I thought I would share some observations from along the way.
1. The trip north on Interstate 65 is a microcosm of America. The first 20 or so miles out of Louisville is nothing but ugly suburban sprawl. Big box retailers, ugly housing developments, sleazy stip malls, gas stations and fast food joints and all the other trappings of suburban life. In other words, the things I hate most in this world.
2. Eventually the sprawl gives way to undulating hills that house some of what America used to be like. The small towns with names like Seymour, Nashville, Georgetown and Crawfordsville are much the same as they were 100 years ago and it reminds you of a time that long ago disappeaered.
3. Soon enough, the rolling hills of Southern Indiana give way to flat nothingness, one farm after another for as far as the eye can see. It's that way all the way to Indianapolis, just field after field of corn and soybeans, all meant to juice up our sodas, fuel our cars and make us fat. I wonder what will happen to all those fields when oil starts to become scarce.
4. As you move north, the corn fields suddenly end and the suburban sprawl of Indianapolis begins. Indy is the perfect example of a white bread kind of town. Nothing daring, nothing adventurous and certainly nothing to write home about. It is bland, boring and has little sense of self. It could, for all intents and purposes, be any city in any state. It ends as soon as it began and once again, corn fields everywhere, all of it broken up only by the hills around Lafayette and Purdue University.
5. As one ventures into Northern Indiana, the scene begins to shift from rural to urban in a hurry. Once thriving cities like Gary, Hammond and Valparaiso are a shell of their former selves. From the interstate one can see boarded up homes, weed infested neighborhoods, closed stores and one empty steel factory after another, all in a competition to see which can rust first. It's ugly, it's depressing and it's all too common along the Great Lakes and Midwest.
6. Just when you think all is lost, you enter Chicago and are reminded of how great a city can be. It's simply amazing to cross over the Chicago Skyway and see the massive towers that line the lakefront. The city plays out in all it's urban glory for nearly 80 miles and I love every mile of it. It has the vibe that few cities have and it lets you know right away that it means all business. It truly is a city of neighborhoods and to explore them is to see every slice of America in all it's glory. If you've never been, do yourself a favor and get there now, it's that good.
7. With gasoline prices well over $4 a gallon, I didn't know how much traffic to expect. I had heard tales of empty roads but I saw none of that. The higher prices did not appear to have any affect on traffic as the roads were as busy as they've always been. Semi's were out in full force and there were no shortages of SUV's. What I did notice however was a lack of motor homes. I counted five coming and going.
8. Once again, if you live in Indiana or Ohio, the left lane is for driving fast and passing and the right lane is for going slower. It's a pretty simple concept but evidently lost on those from those two states.
9. Of the top of my head, I saw cars from the following states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, Nebraska, Nevada and Colorado.
10. I stayed at the Staybridge Suites, an extended stay hotel that Dr. Z reserves for his patients. It's a real nice place and I would be totally happy living in one. The suites are just the right size, the beds are very comfortable, the pillows are feathery soft and you've got housekeeping. What's not to like?
11. It's amazing what a difference 320 miles can make in climate. It was warm when I got to Chiago, but the 91 degress there is nowhere near as hot as 91 degrees here. The humidity just isn't as bad, the sun isn't as bright and it's just not that hot. Lucky them.
12. Pizza and beer are as close to perfect as one can get.
13. There is a lot of money in Chicago. A lot.
14. Central time zone sucks ass big time.
15. Perhaps the best thing about my trip was for two nights, I didn't have to share my bed with any dogs. An interesting experience.
16. Still, there's no place like home and home is here.